sermon: The Christian and the World (Part 9)
Resisting the World
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 25-Apr-98; Sermon #337; 63 minutes
Anxious care and foreboding are debilitating and faith-destroying. If we "put on" (assume the disposition and the way of life of) Christ, we will, through continuous practice, learn the processes which produce spiritual success. Two major antidotes to foreboding and anxiety include (1) the argument from the greater to the lesser. If God has already taken care of the major responsibilities (i.e. giving us life and a calling), He can also be trusted for providing sustenance, and (2) meditating upon God's works around us (Romans 1:20) will provide an insight into the meticulous care He places on the most minute aspects of His creation. Meditating on these things strengthens our faith and trust in the one who supplies all our needs.
Today I am going to be continuing the series on "Resisting The World." Last time, we were specifically going into Jesus' prescription for resisting the world, and we had almost finished the fourth step. By way of review:
Point 1: Make sure of where your treasure is, because the influence of that will cause the heart to follow after it. In other words, we will usually follow after what we envision as important to us in order to get it.
Point 2: The eye of the heart is its understanding. Even as a properly working eye enables the whole body to function properly, so does understanding enable the heart to function properly. Therefore the quality of what one's life produces is largely dependent upon what we understand. Understanding truth fills the life with light. Without vision the people perish. Without the right vision we do not go in the right direction. If we can see where we're going, as it were, and understand, we will get that vision from correct understanding.
Point 3: It is a delusion to think that one can serve two masters equally. This is as impossible as walking on both sides of the street at the same time. The advice is to set your will and make the appropriate sacrifices to devotedly serve God, not mammon. An interesting thing about the word "mammon" is that Jesus personified it. That is, He made it, as it were, into having human qualities. Therefore mammon represents the prince of this world, the builder of this world. It represents Satan, and if we serve mammon, we are serving Satan. Now can you serve God and Satan equally? Impossible.
Point 4: involves anxiety, foreboding, about security in this world, like the poor being overly concerned regarding even the basics of life like food and clothing. These are very serious threats to accomplishment because they are a constant distraction. If we are worried about these things, foreboding about them, we will think about them. If we are thinking about them, where is our thinking in regard to the kingdom of God? There is only one answer to that. It is like trying to serve two masters at the same time. Foreboding is a very serious problem because of its distraction possibilities, and what it does is it gives evidence of a person's lack of faith.
Did not God feed millions of people in a wilderness? God gives that as evidence of what He can do. There were no farms. There was no naturally-growing food. There were no rivers running here and there, and yet God caused food to appear every morning, and He brought water out of rocks. In addition to this, these people were constantly on the move. By constantly, I mean they did not stand still or were not encamped at any one place long enough for them to grow a crop, and so they were forced into dependence on God in order to provide a lesson for us, so that when we came along and God was forming His church and creating us in His image, we could use this example to learn to live by faith. If God can feed people in the wilderness, surely He can feed people and clothe people who are in settled places and working. It makes us ask the question, "Why do not we have more faith?" So the lesson in this, at least part of it, so that we understand, is that anxiety destroys faith.
In Proverbs, chapter 30, and verses 7 and 8 is an interesting statement there. This is part of a prayer, and it is a request of God. Agur, the son of Jakeh, is requesting this of God.
Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things have I required of you; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient [sufficient] for me. Lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the LORD? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Both of the extremes Agur mentions here reveal a lack of faith, and that is why these extremes miss the mark of God's intention that we live by faith. Faith in no way relieves us of our responsibility to be prudent and hardworking, but we are to leave the degree or level of blessing up to God, to be content, and to live without fear within the degree that God supplies to us.
Back in I Timothy is another very familiar scripture.
I Timothy 6:6-11 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
We are to be vigorous in work, but at the same time content. That gives evidence that faith is working. Anxiety, or foreboding, is not a normal care of one's duties to God and family. What Christ is teaching against is foreboding, because it distracts us from seeking the true treasure, and it gives evidence that we are not living by faith. When you connect this with Agur's prayer back there in Proverbs 30, Agur is asking for a consistent and lifelong integrity, accompanied by a rejection of lies and riches, because he didn't want to be tempted into the distractions the power of riches influences us to follow after. There are very few people who really can handle wealth, and that is why there are so few of God's people who have it. It's actually an act of mercy on God's part to keep from losing us, and so He usually puts us in a position where we are neither rich nor poor, and more often than that we are going to be in a position where we just have enough, so that it tilts us in the direction where we are turning to Him very frequently for what it is that we perceive as our needs.
Now back to I Timothy again in your thoughts in regard to verses 7 and 8, he says we brought nothing into the world, and it's certain that we can carry nothing out of the world. We'll mostly concentrate on this just for a few minutes. Do you know why that's there? It's to remind us of something that's very important to you and me, that if we can take nothing material out of this world, then what are we supposed to turn our attention to? Is it not that we are to turn our attention to what we can take out of this world? That's the purpose of those two verses. The man of God will then turn his attention to God's purpose, to God's plan, to what God is creating, and what He is doing is creating sons in His image, but He is doing that by and through our making the choices to follow after His way. So what you can take through the grave are the spiritual qualities, the attributes of God that come to us by the means of the relationship that we have with Him.
This fits perfectly with what Jesus is saying in Matthew chapter 6. We have to turn our attention to the right thing and make sure the treasure is in the right area, make sure we are not chasing after mammon, because we cannot take mammon and all of its qualities, all of its powers, all of its influence, all of its notoriety—NONE of it through the grave. But those things that look like God can, because they will assure us that we will be in the resurrection. Verse 11 there clearly tells us what we are to pursue: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. I am sure that Paul could have added other things to that, but those are the things that came to his mind as being very important to you and me, that we spend our time pursuing after these things.
Let us add another thought to this mix taken from Romans the 13th chapter. The same apostle is writing, and he is writing to the Romans this time. He says:
Romans 13:13-14 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
"Make no provision for the flesh," he says. If we did not have the rest of the Bible and many other scriptures to draw from, this could be taken very literally to mean that we should do nothing. "Make no provision for the flesh." But God tells us in many other places, does not He, to work, and to work diligently. Some people have taken the approach that maybe what this verse literally seems to say, as close as they possibly can, and still survive, is to go out to a monastery somewhere and just camp themselves there, and they do very little except meditate, walk around, read, study, pray. But that is not what God has in mind. That is not what Paul meant at all.
Now when it says, "to walk honestly," he means that we are to give as honest a representation of our high station in life as possible. There is more involved here than simply not lying, or simply not stealing. When you tie it to what he says in verse 14, which is actually that first phrase there, it is expanding upon "Let us walk honestly." We walk honestly by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our high station in life is to be sons of God, and what Paul is saying is, “Give an honest representation in your witness to the world.” Give them evidence that you are what you claim to be, to not act hypocritically, but to live up to what a son of God needs to be, because after all, we are sons of God. We are representing our Father, and our Father is a hard working Creator. Jesus said, "My Father works, and I work." They work at what they do. A creator works.
Now to get back to this thought again, ... just because Jesus is forbidding anxiety and foreboding, this does not mean that God does not want us to work diligently, to work hard at our employment, to work hard at being a Christian. "Flesh" in verse 14 is being used in its moral sense as a reference to human nature, and Paul is saying that the slightest interest in providing for it will bring sin into the picture, and we are under absolutely no obligation to obey its whims, and thus we are not to provide for any aspect, for any part of this in our life. Don't give it an inch! If we don't give it an inch, we will give an honest representation of God. So therefore, in saying "Make no provision for the flesh," He is not saying that we should do nothing. He is saying don't let deep-seated desires lead you into sin in order that you might have what you desire, or what human nature desires. What we should do is do things consistent with God's way of life. That is living honestly.
Let's continue this thought in the book of Galatians in chapter 3 and verse 27, and tie this to Romans 13:14.
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Remember also that Romans 13:14 said “to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a very interesting idiom, and I think most of us have explored in one way or another that it portrays putting on clothing. That is what the word “put on” means. It is like putting on clothing, only in this case we are putting on Christ. What it means in a practical application is to assume the disposition and the way of life of another. This other one that we are assuming the disposition is Christ. You might think that this is a little bit strange, but it is not.
We use the words put on in much the same way today. We have an English idiom, and we say, “It was a put on.” We say that. Now we can say that somebody is pulling the wool over some person's eyes by "putting on" that they are something that they are not, like they are rich and cultured when they really are not. The same sense is intended here, except any hypocrisy is removed from it. When you put on Christ, it means that you are striving to live in the same manner, in the same attitudes (disposition), in the same way as He did. There is nothing wrong with that at all, and so Paul is telling us that we are to live our lives in a manner worthy of His station in life. Unless we practice living this way, we will never get to be that way. I think we understand this. Very few of us can sit down and play a piano without practicing it, or any other musical instrument, or anything else that requires skill in doing. It requires practice.
Christ's instruction in Matthew 6:26 has taken a bit of a turn from being relatively abstract treasure (understanding, devoted service to one master), to a more concrete and practical daily principle of application; that is, actually living by faith, and is instruction which has taken a more proactive approach to resisting the world.
What we can see so far in this practical instruction is that God is requiring a balance from us. On the one hand we are to trust Him. On the other hand it almost seems like it is the opposite side, that we are to work almost as if He did not exist and that trust did not exist. We are to work diligently, but at the same time understanding, experiencing, and learning the process. I used this word before in previous sermons in regard to this.
Experiencing and learning the process that produces true success is most important to God's purpose for us right now. It is the process that counts, not whether we ever become rich by working diligently. God is a hard worker. Look at the fantastic creation that we have, here, and He worked hard at that I am sure. He worked very thoughtfully, maybe over centuries of time, planning things out before He actually executed His command and this universe and we came into being. I do not know, but it all came out of the mind of God, and so we are learning the processes that produce success so that they will be able to be used in the kingdom of God. We will know the processes to pass onto others, because we will have experienced them.
So, therefore, the practical aspect of this—what Jesus is beginning to demand of us here in moving away from the abstract and moving more toward that which is practical—is practice, practice, practice in doing the right thing at the right time in the right way. It is these things that give the performance its excellence. You tie these things altogether with treasure, with vision, and with not serving two masters…what are you going to produce out of that? Brethren, this is what makes us in God's image. If we are distracted by anxiety, or we are distracted by chasing after mammon, what are we going to have that we can take through the grave? Are we serious about our responsibilities?
When that last sermon closed, the subject had shifted more strongly toward faith and directly involving God in our daily activities, inviting Him by and through prayer to participate in these things with us. We saw briefly that "unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain." Do you understand what He is saying there? That unless the Lord helps you rear your children, it is all in vain. He needs to be a part of it. If you love your children, you will make Him a part of it, and you will invite Him to participate.
Jesus put it even more directly. He said, "Without Me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5). That is pretty sobering. We can do no more toward the kingdom of God without our High Priest involved in our lives than a branch that is severed from the vine can produce fruit. Is that clear? Now do you believe it? See, that is the part. We are moving toward using faith on a day-to-day basis because faith is the element that is going to make this work. If we do not believe God and believe that He is a part of our lives, we are not going to invite Him to participate in every part of our life. It is that simple, and it begins to point out the need and the beauty of prayer, and praying without ceasing, day in and day out, in every situation of life. So unless the Lord builds the house, or guards the city, or participates in the rearing of children, it is all done in vain toward God's kingdom. So talk to Him. Pray without ceasing. Get Him participating in every activity of your life, trusting Him to supply your need. It is not just food and raiment. It is your attitude. It is your temper. It is your tongue.
Let us go to I Peter, chapter 4, verses 17 through 19.
I Peter 4:17-19 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore [Here is a concluding statement as a result of what has just preceded it:] let them that suffer according to the will of God [Brethren, I am including us within this.] commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
The trust that we exercise is far more valuable in the long run than any material blessings that we might receive. Do you understand that dependence, trust in God, has become the law of our lives? It is the operating factor. I want you to think about the ramifications of that, and what has happened to the church in the last ten or fifteen years. The Laodicean says by his way of life (not necessarily verbally), but by the way he conducts it, “I am rich. I am increased with goods. I have need of nothing.”
Well, God is not talking, here, about material things. I do not care who we are, what our station in life is, we can always think of things that we need—material things. We do not necessarily really need them, but we begin to think we need them, whether it is another automobile, another house, other clothing, you name it. The list is almost endless. But the Laodicean says, “I have need of nothing.”
God says back to him (and here comes the reality of their situation spiritually), “They are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” Can you see what is wrong with Laodiceanism? The Laodicean is not dependent upon God. He needs nothing, and God says that they are blind, deceived, about what is really important in life. What they possess will not carry through the grave. The Laodicean's treasure is firmly anchored in the world, and this is why I am giving this series. Laodiceanism is worldliness taken to its epitome within the church. There are others who are outside of the church who we can say are far more worldly than the Laodiceans. But, it is so detestable to God the Laodicean is the only group that He spits out of His mouth. If you want to take that a little bit further…since the spit came from within Him, it is like He is spitting them out of Him, and they are no longer a part of His body, which is a dangerous circumstance to be in.
James said that he who is a friend of the world is the enemy of God. No wonder He spits them out! This is no little sin. What Jesus is doing right at the very beginning of His ministry is He is getting right to the root of how we can avoid this, and if we have gotten involved in it, how we can get out of it. “Treasure,” “understanding,” “devotedly giving yourself to God,” and then the rest of the things that come on, mainly deal with faith. What Jesus is giving is how to maintain a growing relationship with God, and so what we are beginning to get into is the thought—the concept—that God made us, and He can sustain us. As long as He wants us to live in the flesh, He will feed and clothe us. Now do we trust God that He is going to supply our need? Paul said, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory, by Jesus Christ” (Philippians 4:19).
Now let us turn to Hebrews the 4th chapter and just review in verses 1 and 2 why this is so important to us.
Hebrews 4:1-2 Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest [into the kingdom of God, into His family] any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
This is the very area in which the Israelites fell short. They would not trust God on a daily basis, and this is why it so frequently makes mention of their discontentment. They grew impatient. They griped. They got frustrated. They rebelled in the wilderness all because of their lack of faith. The bottom-line issue in our life is faith. Now love is undoubtedly the greatest of God's attributes, but that love will not be operative in us unless it is preceded by faith. It is the precursor. It is the foundation. It stands under, and it is what supports the relationship with God. The growth of true love has a starting point, and faith in God is that point. So the admonishments to us, here in Hebrews 4, is to be concerned that this does not happen to us. God's promises hold true for us because God never changes in His character or His purpose. His promises are still valid and open to us, and what remains is for us to believe them, and to use them. Now flip back to Romans 8 and in verse 32 where we are given assurance of this. We will start with verse 31.
Romans 8:31-32 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
I think you understand that "all things" means those things needful for life and breath and our spiritual growth. So trust Him. Love Him. Do your duties lawfully, and your reward is going to be very great indeed.
Let us go back to Matthew 6 and in verse 25.
Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink: nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
This thought where He said, “Therefore I say unto you, ‘Take no thought for your life,’” is so important that He repeated it in verse 31, just six verses later. It is important because the world is there. Human nature is in us, and the world and human nature vibrate together on the same frequencies, and we are easily distracted by its constant pull, and therefore Jesus quickly goes on to give us illustrations reinforcing His injunction by a variety of very interesting arguments, and that is what appears in verse 26.
So the very fact that He is laying such stress on this distracting anxiety also makes it unmistakably clear that we are confronting a subtle, but exceedingly destructive, sin that is easily fallen into. This idea, this concept, is very interesting to think about, because He did it so early in His ministry. If we do not get started off right, it is going to be exceedingly hard to turn away from it, and so it is good that we get this fundamental issue really nailed down and begin to do what He is telling us to do. I feel that this is something that we need to ask God directly for, the perception to see in ourselves, and the strength to enable us to resist it.
Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?
This begins a series of arguments showing how unreasonable it is to be anxious about mundane matters like food and clothing. Each one of the arguments Jesus gives is based on the goodness and the faithfulness of God. Each one of them is drawn from the natural world around us, and only one conclusion can be reached in each of them.
Each one of the arguments follows the same line of reasoning, and that is “from the greater to the lesser.” The reasoning is this: since God has already done this, “the greater,” it is inconceivable that He would fail to do that, “the lesser.” This is a form of argument that is used very frequently in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, and I am going to show you some other examples.
Paul used it very frequently—from the greater to the lesser. Since God has always done this, it is inconceivable that He will not do that. This will become very clear.
Romans 5:8-10 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Here it comes.] Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Since Christ died for us, it is inconceivable that we will not be saved from future wrath. You can tie this to those verses that we just read in Romans 8:31-32 where he said that God will, since He is already given His Son, it is inconceivable to think that He will not supply everything else that is needed. Do not get the idea, though, from what I have just said that this a “once saved, always saved” proposition, because when other scriptures are added to this, they show us that this in no way relieves us of our responsibility to work diligently, to overcome and to grow, but it does give us hope because God is faithful. That is the issue. If we will do what God has called us to do, it will work out. These are examples of God's faithfulness. He can be trusted to do His part, but will we trust Him?
The concept then in Matthew 6 arises from this circumstance that since God has implanted life, He also grants all that is needful to sustain it, whether physically or spiritually. That's Jesus' argument.
Before we can go any further, I think we need to review a major principle for building faith that sometimes we tend to forget in the midst of our fast-paced lives.
Romans 1:17-20 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [or suppress] the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in [or to] them; for God has showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
One area which arises from faith is the creation. It is a visible representation of God's work, of God Himself. Now let us build on that a little bit.
Let us go back to Ecclesiastes, chapter 7, and verse 13. I am not going to expound on these a lot, I just want you to see the principle that is involved. It is a principle that appears very frequently in the Bible. Solomon said:
Ecclesiastes 7:13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which he has made crooked?
The conclusion that Solomon reached in this context is unimportant. The important thing is to consider the basis of Solomon's argument. In order to reach a right conclusion, one must consider the work of God. That is what Jesus is doing. We have to consider the work of God, and if we make the consideration of the work of God a normal regular part of our thinking, it is very likely that our faith is going to be built. Little by little it will become stronger and stronger. “Consider the work of God.” That is what Jesus is doing there in Matthew 6. Consider the birds of the air. That is the work of God. Here is how to build faith, you see. So that is exactly the premise Jesus used there.
Let us go to Job the 36th chapter, and in verse 24. This is a long soliloquy by Elihu. We are just going to pick out one verse, verse 24. And here is advice to you and me. It is part of building faith.
Job 36:24 Remember [he says to Job] that you magnify His work, which men behold.
Magnify means to enlarge upon, to make it clear so that it is able to be seen better, understood better, build one's faith better. Now what Elihu went on to do was to speak of rain, of thunderstorms, snow and ice, as examples of God's wisdom and might. Elihu's argument is that man is too limited to fully understand, but these things are evident tokens of God's greatness.
Therefore, God is to be highly respected, honored, and trusted. He does not deal dirty. He always tells the truth. He always keeps His word, and if He says He will do something, He will DO it! That is the premise of Matthew 6 and Jesus' argument. This world has had such an impact on us that we have difficulty with this. We believe it in its abstract form. We believe it as a piece of information, of knowledge, and we will agree with it, but does it ever get translated into practical application? That is the big question mark.
Psalm 104:24 O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all: the earth is full of your riches.
Meaning the riches of His thinking, the riches of His kindness and goodness and love to His creation, and the riches of His care and concern.
Psalm 111:2 The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.
Oh! Maybe we ought to think about that a while. He is telling us, here, who it is who will look to these things—the works of God that are manifest, visible, right in the earth. It is those who take pleasure in what God has done, who will seek them out.
Psalm111:3 His work is honorable and glorious: and his righteousness [His right doing] endures forever.
So the works of God are intended to be a very real and visible guide into conduct of our lives, and that is again what Jesus is showing in Matthew 6.
Now let us go to Psalm 139 and verse 14. This is a Psalm of David, and he says:
Psalm 139:14 I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well.
You can be sure David was telling the truth, there; he spent a great deal of time meditating on the works of God. That comes out in all the Psalms that he wrote. This whole Psalm is an exposition on what Jesus is talking about there, beginning in Matthew 6:26. God wants us to understand that He has not gone way off somewhere. He is involved. He is aware. He is near to help us get through His program. God Himself set an example in the very beginning. I want you to look at this in Genesis chapter 1.
Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made [He looked at His own work, at His own creation.] and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
I think this is a very good way to use the Sabbath—to reflect on these things from time to time. God reflected on His own work, and it was good. It was pleasing to Him as well.
Let us go back into the Psalms as we carry this thought on. Go to Psalm 92, a very interesting Psalm here. We will begin in verse 4.
Psalm 92:4-7 For you, LORD, have made me glad through your work: I will triumph in the works of your hands. O LORD, how great are your works! And your thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knows not; neither does a fool understand this. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed forever.
“Triumph.” How is David, or the Psalmist, whoever he is, going to triumph? By his reflection on the works of God. Is David, or the Psalmist, going to triumph through faith because of what he learned through the works of God? Yes, because the works of God are intended by God to be a builder of our faith, because we can come to know Him, to understand His mind, to understand His character, to understand His personality through what He has made.
Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all your works; I muse on the work of your hands.
Do you wonder what made these men great men of faith? Go to Psalm 145, verse 4.
Psalm 145:4-10 One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honor of your majesty, and of your wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of your terrible acts: and I will declare your greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of your great goodness, and shall sing of your righteousness. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. All your works shall praise you, O LORD; and your saints shall bless you.
How many times have you heard that Psalm?
Now back to Matthew 6:26 again. This particular illustration is taken from God's consideration of creatures inferior to us. Jesus is asking us to seriously consider God's care of them, and it is as though He is saying, “Look how the birds flit about, chirping their cheerful songs, free from anxiety.”
The inference then to you and me is, should our attitude not be more like what they show? The birds neither sow nor reap, nor does any human really have to take care of them because they are fed and kept alive by their Creator. Is that not correct? Are you beginning to get the drift? If God will take care of the birds, do you think He will not take care of you and me? Are you beginning to see why anxiety is a pain to God? We do not trust Him—that He who made everything is not really a part of our life.
For today let us look at a couple more scriptures that have to do with this thought before we close off here. We are going to go back to Job 38 and pick up a couple of thoughts here. Elihu is still speaking. It is a long soliloquy, here.
Job 38:41 Who provides for the raven his food? When his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.
Is that not interesting…the way Elihu saw that—that the birds cry out to God for food, for their daily need? Can you see why Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread?” Did you ever wonder where He got that thought?
Let us look at Psalm 104 again, but this time we are going to begin in verse 25.
Psalm 104:25-28 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom you have made to play therein. These wait all upon you; that you may give them their meat in due season. That you give them they gather: you open your hand, they are filled with good.
Do we think normally of God doing this? Probably not. I know that I do not think of Him doing this, but that is what is in His own Book.
Now go to Psalm 145 again, this time to verse 15.
Psalm 145:15-20 The eyes of all wait upon you [God]; and you give them their meat in due season. You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The LORD is near unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth, He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The LORD preserves all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.
God gives ample testimony through the irrational creatures of nature how He wants rational men to trust Him. Do we worry? Do we get anxious? Do we fret? The answer is “yes.” I do not say that we do this all the time, but there are times that we do this, and what we need to learn is to live our lives, to walk in trust that God is going to supply every need. He loves us. He will provide for us far better than He will provide for these irrational creatures, because He does not want to lose any of us. He has given us plenty of witness from His word of what His feelings are toward us, how He wants to have us in His kingdom, and how He is looking forward to the birth of His children. He wants us to be like Him. He is going to take no chance at all of losing you.
What He does want us to do is to grow in faith to where we trust Him for everything, and that is the direction that He is moving us in. I think that we have a long way to go, but we have made a start, and now is the time to turn to setting our mind, our will, to growing even more and more rapidly so that we trust Him for everything every day of our life, and have that peace that only He can give—tranquility in our mind and assurance that He is with us.
We will stop there, and when I get the next opportunity, which might be down the road or so, we will continue this series.